Wacky Winter Weather Doesn’t Stop Bloggers!

Wintry mixes, gale force winds, and wild temperatures have not deterred us from hitting the wine trails in 2018. In recent weekends, we visited Tarara Winery, Gray Ghost Vineyards, and Rappahanock Cellars; along the way, we met up with fellow bloggers Kurt and Carol of Wine About Virginia and supreme oenophile/good friend Susan McHenry.

Our trip to Tarara Winery was threatened by a winter advisory that was issued for later in the afternoon. However, we decided to go with the intent to get their early and then leave early before the winter weather arrived. Danielle, our wine educator, gave us an expert tasting of winemaker Jordan Harris’ excellent wines. Of the white wines, the 2015 Viognier and the 2013 Neveah White were my favorites. The Viognier presented floral aromas with notes of tropical fruit and honey. On the palate, I noted tropical fruit with a nice, round mouth feel. The Neveah White is a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier; it displayed ripe pear and pineapple characteristics with a touch of oak on the finish. Favorite red wines included the 2015 Long Bomb 9, a red blend led by Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot, Syrah and Tannat. Notes of tobacco, clover, blackberry and anise gave way to a fruity palate with pepper on the finish; it was also a bit “chewy”. I’d recommend decanting before serving. The 2012 Neveah Red was a juicy treat with elements of blackberry, currants, tobacco and cedar. Oh—-the wintry mix? In keeping with the fickle winter that has been 2018, it never materialized.

However, our winter hurricane did strike the area, and many wineries were closed due to power outages. Gray Ghost Vineyards was able to operate thanks to a generator, so we were able to attend their annual barrel tasting. Here we met bloggers Kurt and Carol Jensen and dear friend Susan McHenry. Group favorites were the 2016 Petit Verdot and the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was also a fan of the lighter-bodied and fruity 2017 Cabernet Franc that was still in the barrel but oh so ready to enjoy. From Gray Ghost Vineyards we made our way to Rappahanock Cellars. Rappahanock Cellars has added sparkling wines to their lineup of quality wines, and I enjoyed the Sparkling Rose with its strawberry flavors and bright acidity. The dry Rose Reserve and the 2015 Cabernet Franc were other standouts; however, at the end of our tasting, the group was in the mood for Chardonnay, and the 2015 Chardonnay did not disappoint. Pear flavors with a rich mouth feel and an oak kiss paired well with the platter of cheeses that we ordered to finish the wonderful (and less windy) afternoon.

Spring is around the corner, and the finicky winter of 2018 will be history. Plan to visit these wineries as we transition to warmer days and spring landscapes colored with fragrant blossoms. Of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

King Family 2014 Meritage Wins Governor’s Cup

Congratulations to outstanding winemaker, Matthieu Finot, for winning the Virginia Governor’s Cup. It was Finot’s 2014 Meritage that earned the coveted Cup!

We are fortunate to already have a bottle of the big winner on our wine rack, and we intend to hold on to it for a while longer. Merlot leads the way with this blend (50%) followed by Petit Verdot (23%), Cabernet Franc (21%), and Malbec (6%).

Be sure to visit King Family Vineyards to experience this top of the class red blend for yourself, and please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

3 For 3

Time flies when you are having a blast with your best friend who also happens to be your spouse. That is the only way that I can describe the past three years with my best friend and husband, Paul. Well, to be completely honest, it has been 13 years since we have been friends and partners; however, three years ago we decided to marry on the exact date of our first date. That occurred on February 20, 2005 when a reluctant Paul agreed to a date with me to view art exhibits at the National Gallery of Art. Later that evening, we had charcuterie and cheeses with a bottle of red wine—-a Merlot from Gray Ghost Vineyards to be exact. This year is our third wedding anniversary and we thought it appropriate to celebrate with a Virginia red wine aptly named 3.

3 was a joint venture of three highly regarded Virginia wineries that included King Family Vineyards, Veritas Vineyards, and Grace Estate. The 2010 vintage was our last bottle of this joint effort. Virginia wine aficionados may remember that the 2010 growing season resembled Napa more so than Virginia. The summer was hot and dry, and drought was the word being bandied about by weathermen at the time. Virginia red wines from this vintage tend to be fuller bodied but higher in alcohol; in fact, we have opened very few Virginia red wines from the 2010 vintage. However, 3 struck us as appropriate for the occasion, and we were not disappointed with our decision to open it. I plopped an aerating device atop the bottle and then poured it into the decanter about an hour before dinner; we gave 3 a lot of time to breathe. Dinner included filet mignon served beside potatoes au gratin and roasted asparagus.

So what were our impressions? We poured 3 from the decanter into Bordeaux glasses (ok—-we were trying to be pretentious), and I noted aromas of blackberry, menthol and cedar. Generous blackberry jam greeted the palate with a bit of blueberry noted at mid-palate. A nice, lengthy finish complemented our meal. Our only regret was that this was the last bottle of 3 in our collection. Note to readers who still have 3 on the wine rack—-this is still aging well, so hang on to it for a bit longer if you wish.

We enjoyed celebrating three years of marriage with 3. It gave us the chance to visit memory lane to recall our time together. Virginia wines have always been a special part of our lives together. We hope that readers can recall similar special moments. Visit these three excellent wineries, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Return To The Club

I was a member of the Casanel Vineyards and Winery wine club for a year and then a few more months went by and I was out. You need to buy a case within the year to be in the club. Well I had forgotten. So we went back to Casanel to get back in the club.

We began at the tasting bar. Our very knowledgable tasting associate Erik, guided us through our tasting. Between the two Pinot Gris’ they have, we both preferred the Ellianna. We noted a full palate with notes of pear, apricot and some lime zest. It was lean and ended with some mineral notes. It’s perfect for a late spring day or summer time. But we’ll enjoy it year round.

We really enjoyed the 2016 Chardonnay. It’s a blend of stainless and oak aging. We noted pineapple, pear and lemon with a lingering finish and a kiss of oak at the end. As I tasted this one, I knew I’d be adding several bottles to my case.

Onto the reds. We tasted the 2015 K2 Red Blend, the 2013 Bergerac Red, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2015 Petit Verdot. While all the reds were wonderful, my favorite was the 2015 Petit Verdot. I noted plum, blackberry, cedar and a whiff of violet. I could see this one as both a sipper and pairing well with beef. We were also treated to a taste of the 2014 Carménère. Warren wrote down fleshy red fruit, plum, black pepper and thought it would pair well with a flank steak.

After our tasting we shared a bottle of the 2016 Chardonnay with cheese and a baguette. While enjoying out wine and snacks, Nelson joined us and told us his life story and shared his words of wisdom. It was great talking with him and hearing his stories.

Before leaving we made our decisions for the case. We liked the wines so much we’ll probably be back sooner than later to get another case! I’m back in the club now! Be sure to visit Casanel soon and when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Traditions Continue – Breaux Vineyards Vertical Tasting

Our last post featured a tradition of beginning each new year with a visit to Delaplane Vineyards, and we continued another one this past weekend. Paul and I have attended the vertical Cabernet tasting at Breaux Vineyards for the past several years, and also tends to be the first wine event that we attend. This year’s vertical featured Cabernet Sauvignon from the driest growing season which was 2007 to the wettest, 2014. Exquisite food pairings with the vintage Cabernets made for a delicious afternoon.

The event was held in the grand Acadia room with its scenic views of the vineyards. We were greeted with a glass of the 2016 Vieux Carre, an orange wine crafted from Viognier. Lookout for orange wines in Virginia; this is the second orange wine that we have experienced from Virginia. Both were produced from the Viognier grape with the orange tint due to extended soaking on the skins. Expect a tannic presence on the palate. It paired quite well with the amuse bouche, a scrod cake topped with garlic tarragon aioli.

Cabernet Sauvignon was the featured star, and six vintages were presented for review. These included the 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014. An added twist was that these Cabernets were the result of three different winemaking talents: Dave Collins, David Pagan Castano, and Heather Munden. Current winemaker Josh Gerard introduced the profiles to each wine and its respective vintage. So which vintage shined the brightest? In the end, it depended on the food pairing. My overall favorite was the 2012. It proved to be the most versatile; although it was paired with the second course, salmon topped with raw sugar and mustard salmon served atop white bean pepper ragout, it also played nicely with the third course, a tornedeau of beef over apple chestnut gnudi and apple cider vinegar. So we should pair chicken with white wine? Think again. The first course featured chicken thighs braised in peanut sauce. The 2012 played quite nicely with this dish too.

First Course

Second Course

Third Course

The 2007 as elder statesman was not to be ignored. It sang the right notes for its age—-soft cedar, sweet tobacco, and raising-like fruit. Quite nice on its own, it also paired well with the chicken course; however, the more savory 2008 vintage gave its older sibling a run for its money with this food pairing. The peanut sauce brought forward the ripe berry elements. The youngest kid on the block, the 2014, was produced from what was the wettest year of the vintages served; however, the rains came and went at the right time. Harvest time was dry and the fruit ripened right on cue to produce a more structured wine with dark berry aromas, cedar notes, and firmer tannins. This was most enjoyable with the beef course. Buy now but drink later; decant if you are not that patient.

I was not surprised that the 2007 was at its apex; it was a dry year with little rainfall and dry conditions to harvest time. The 2010 growing season was indeed even hotter; for that reason, the red wines from this vintage still need time on the wine rack. I find them to be a bit tight still. Tasting the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon in this lineup from Breaux Vineyards reinforced my hunch—-I enjoyed it with the salmon, a fattier dish that absorbed the higher alcohol and propelled forward the dark fruit elements of the wine. However, it is a gem that needs time to evolve further.

Some traditions are worth continuing, and this is certainly one of them. It is remarkable to us that we can discuss vintages in Virginia and decide whether to drink or hold. As we begin our 13th year as bloggers, we can attest that the quality Virginia wines can be found at those wineries that devote the time and effort into creating quality wines. Breaux Vineyards is one of those wineries. Please visit Breaux Vineyards to discover your own favorites, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Starting the New Year at Delaplane Cellars

The holidays are over now, the holiday trimmings are stored away, and the rush of attending holiday parties and events has subsided. We decided to destress from our holiday happenings with a visit to Delaplane Cellars. We counted on the spectacular views from the tasting room and the excellent wines there to give us that zen-like experience that we needed.

The frigid temperatures did not deter us from venturing out to the winery, but other wine tasters decided to stay cozy at home. We and few other bundled-up sippers were at the tasting bar; we knew we were going to be rewarded with the peace and quiet that we sought. Our tasting began with the Rose, one that is produced from the saignee method and a blend of Merlot Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Its salmon pink hue and strawberry notes suggested a classic rose, and indeed it was. Rose is a good pour anytime of the year, and we enjoyed this 2016 offering from Delaplane Cellars. White wines followed, and I enjoyed the 2016 Vidal Blanc with its aromas of tropical fruit and flavors of juicy apple. Serve as an aperitif or with a spicy dish. In fact, if spicy food is on the menu then try the 2016 Petit Manseng; tropical fruit characteristics and sweeter palate should be enough to cool down spicy Thai or Cajun dishes.

Of the red wines, Paul enjoyed the light-bodied 2014 Cinq, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. A nose of smoke, jam, and tobacco led to flavors of brambleberries, licorice and spice. Perfect with lighter fare, pizza, or a plate of deli meats and cheeses. For heavier dishes that might grace the table this time of year, the 2014 Left Bank Estate is the wine to pour. It’s a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Blackberry notes and aromas of forest floor were followed by cherry and blackberry flavors. Nice tannins should play well with braised fare or heartier meats.

We continued our experience at Delaplane by enjoying a glass each of our favorite red wines along with a cheese plate and bread. We made certain to enjoy the beauty of the stark winter landscape and mountain peaks as they lay against a sharp cerulean sky.

Begin your New Year with a visit to Delaplane Cellars. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!